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ΓΙΑΤΙ Ο ΚΑΡΚΙΝΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΣΤΗΘΟΥΣ ΒΡΙΣΚΕΤΑΙ ΣΥΝΗΘΩΣ ΚΟΝΤΑ ΣΤΗ ΜΑΣΧΑΛΗ?ΠΡΟΚΕΙΤΑΙ ΓΙΑ ΜΙΑ ΠΛΗΡΟΦΟΡΙΑ Η ΟΠΟΙΑ ΔΙΑΣΤΑΥΡΩΘΗΚΕ ΜΕ ΑΣΘΕΝΕΙΣ ΠΟΥ ΚΑΝΟΥΝ ΧΗΜΕΙΟΘΕΡΑΠΕΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΕΡΕΥΝΗΤΕΣ ΠΟΥ ΗΔΗ ΓΝΩΡΙΖΟΥΝ ΤΟ ΖΗΤΗΜΑ.
ΠΡΕΠΕΙ ΝΑ ΚΟΙΝΟΠΟΙΗΘΕΙ ΣΕ ΟΛΟΥΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΦΙΛΟΥΣ ΜΑΣ, ΚΥΡΙΩΣ ΤΙΣ ΓΥΝΑΙΚΕΣ. ΣΑΣ ΠΡΟΚΑΛΩ ΟΛΟΥΣ ΝΑ ΞΑΝΑΣΚΕΦΤΕΙΤΕ ΤΗΝ ΗΜΕΡΗΣΙΑ ΧΡΗΣΗ ΕΝΟΣ ΠΡΟΪΟΝΤΟΣ ΠΟΥ  ΜΠΟΡΕΙ ΝΑ ΣΑΣ ΠΡΟΚΑΛΕΣΕΙ ΑΥΤΗ ΤΗ ΣΟΒΑΡΗ ΑΣΘΕΝΕΙΑ. ΑΠΟ ΣΗΜΕΡΑ , ΑΛΛΑΖΟΥΜΕ ΤΙΣ ΗΜΕΡΗΣΙΕΣ ΣΥΝΗΘΕΙΕΣ ΜΑΣ !

Η ΒΑΣΙΚΗ ΑΙΤΙΑ ΠΟΥ ΠΡΟΚΑΛΕΙ ΚΑΡΚΙΝΟ ΤΟΥ ΣΤΗΘΟΥΣ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΤΑ ΑΝΘΙΔΡΩΤΙΚΑ.

ΝΑΙ, ΤΑ ΑΝΘΙΔΡΩΤΙΚΑ !!!

ΤΑ ΠΕΡΙΣΣΟΤΕΡΑ ΠΡΟΪΟΝΤΑ ΠΟΥ ΚΥΚΛΟΦΟΡΟΥΝ ΣΤΗΝ ΑΓΟΡΑ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΣΥΝΔΥΑΣΜΟΣ ΑΝΘΙΔΡΩΤΙΚΟΥ ΜΕ ΑΠΟΣΜΗΤΙΚΟ.

(ANTIPERSPIRANT – DEODORANT). ΓΙΆ ΑΥΤΟ, ΜΟΛΙΣ ΠΑΤΕ ΣΠΙΤΙ, ΕΛΕΓΞΤΕ : «DEODORANT» (ΑΠΟΣΜΗΤΙΚΟ) ΕΙΝΑΙ ΕΝΤΑΞΕΙ.  «ANTIPERSPIRANT» ΟΧΙ !

ΓΙΝΕΤΑΙ ΣΥΓΚΕΝΤΡΩΣΗ ΤΟΞΙΝΩΝ Η ΟΠΟΙΑ ΠΡΟΚΑΛΕΙ ΜΕΤΑΛΛΑΞΗ ΚΥΤΤΑΡΩΝ ΣΤΗΝ ΠΕΡΙΟΧΗ.

ΔΙΑΒΑΣΤΕ ΓΙΑΤΙ :

ΤΟ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΙΝΟ ΣΩΜΑ ΕΧΕΙ ΚΑΠΟΙΟΥΣ ΜΗΧΑΝΙΣΜΟΥΣ ΓΙΑ ΝΑ ΑΠΟΒΑΛΕΙ ΤΙΣ ΤΟΞΙΝΕΣ. ΟΙ ΠΕΡΙΟΧΕΣ ΑΥΤΕΣ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΠΙΣΩ ΑΠΟ ΤΑ ΓΟΝΑΤΑ, ΠΙΣΩ ΑΠΟ ΤΑ ΑΥΤΙΑ, Η ΒΟΥΒΩΝΙΚΗ ΧΩΡΑ ΚΑΙ ΟΙ ΜΑΣΧΑΛΕΣ. ΟΙ ΤΟΞΙΝΕΣ ΑΠΟΒΑΛΛΟΝΤΑΙ ΜΕ ΤΗΝ ΕΦΙΔΡΩΣΗ. ΤΑ ΑΝΘΙΔΡΩΤΙΚΑ (ANTIPERSPIRANT), ΟΠΩΣ ΚΑΙ Η ΟΝΟΜΑΣΙΑ ΤΟΥΣ ΜΑΣ ΠΡΟΣΔΙΟΡΙΖΕΙ, ΣΑΣ ΕΜΠΟΔΙΖΟΥΝ ΝΑ ΙΔΡΩΝΕΤΕ, ΚΑΙ ΓΙ ΑΥΤΟ ΑΠΟΤΡΕΠΟΥΝ ΤΟ ΣΩΜΑ ΑΠΟ ΤΟ ΝΑ ΑΠΟΒΑΛΕΙ ΤΟΞΙΝΕΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΠΕΡΙΟΧΗ ΤΗΣ ΜΑΣΧΑΛΗΣ.

ΟΙ ΤΟΞΙΝΕΣ ΔΕΝ ΕΞΑΦΑΝΙΖΟΝΤΑΙ ΜΕ ΜΑΓΙΚΟ ΤΡΟΠΟ.   ΑΝΤΙΘΕΤΩΣ, ΤΟ ΣΩΜΑ ΤΙΣ ΣΥΣΣΩΡΕΥΕΙ ΣΤΑ ΛΕΜΦΙΚΑ ΚΕΝΤΡΑ ΚΑΤΩ ΑΠΟ ΤΙΣ ΜΑΣΧΑΛΕΣ ΕΦΟΣΟΝ ΔΕΝ ΜΠΟΡΕΙ ΝΑ ΤΙΣ ΑΠΟΒΑΛΕΙ. ΣΧΕΔΟΝ ΟΛΟΙ ΟΙ ΚΑΡΚΙΝΙΚΟΙ ΟΓΚΟΙ ΣΤΟ ΕΞΩ ΚΑΙ ΕΠΑΝΩ ΤΕΤΑΡΤΟ ΤΗΣ ΠΕΡΙΟΧΗΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΣΤΗΘΟΥΣ. ΣΕ ΑΥΤΟ ΑΚΡΙΒΩΣ ΤΟ ΣΗΜΕΙΟ ΒΡΙΣΚΟΝΤΑΙ ΤΑ ΛΕΜΦΙΚΑ ΚΕΝΤΡΑ.

ΕΠΙΣΗΣ, ΓΙΑ ΤΟΥΣ ΑΝΤΡΕΣ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΠΙΟ ΔΥΣΚΟΛΟ , ΑΛΛΑ ΟΧΙ ΑΠΙΘΑΝΟ, ΝΑ ΠΑΘΟΥΝ ΚΑΡΚΙΝΟ ΤΟΥ ΣΤΗΘΟΥΣ ΑΠΟ ΤΑ ΑΝΘΙΔΡΩΤΙΚΑ, ΔΙΟΤΙ Η ΜΕΓΑΛΥΤΕΡΗ ΠΟΣΟΤΗΤΑ ΤΟΥ ΠΡΟΪΟΝΤΟΣ ΜΕΝΕΙ ΣΤΙΣ ΤΡΙΧΕΣ ΤΗΣ ΠΕΡΙΟΧΗΣ ΧΩΡΙΣ ΝΑ ΕΙΣΧΩΡΕΙ ΚΑΤΆΕΥΘΕΙΑΝ ΣΤΟ ΔΕΡΜΑ.

ΟΙ ΓΥΝΑΙΚΕΣ ΠΟΥ ΧΡΗΣΙΜΟΠΟΙΟΥΝ ΑΝΘΙΔΡΩΤΙΚΟ ΑΜΕΣΩΣ ΜΕΤΑ ΤΟ ΞΥΡΙΣΜΑ ΑΥΞΑΝΟΥΝ ΤΙΣ ΠΙΘΑΝΟΤΗΤΕΣ ΝΑ ΝΟΣΗΣΟΥΝ, ΔΙΟΤΙ ΤΟ ΞΥΡΙΣΜΑ ΠΡΟΚΑΛΕΙ ΑΝΕΠΑΙΣΘΗΤΕΣ ΑΝΟΙΧΤΕΣ ΕΓΚΟΠΕΣ ΣΤΟ ΔΕΡΜΑ , ΑΠΟ ΤΙΣ ΟΠΟΙΕΣ ΤΑ ΧΗΜΙΚΑ ΕΙΣΧΩΡΟΥΝ ΜΕΣΩ ΤΙΣ ΜΑΣΧΑΛΗΣ ΑΜΕΣΑ ΣΤΟ ΣΩΜΑ.

ΠΑΡΑΚΑΛΟΥΜΕ ΝΑ ΜΕΤΑΦΕΡΕΤΕ ΑΥΤΟ ΤΟ ΜΗΝΥΜΑ ΣΕ ΟΣΟΥΣ ΑΓΑΠΑΤΕ ! Ο ΚΑΡΚΙΝΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΣΤΗΘΟΥΣ ΕΧΕΙ ΓΙΝΕΙ ΠΟΛΥ ΣΥΝΗΘΗΣ, ΚΑΙ Η ΠΛΗΡΟΦΟΡΙΑ ΑΥΤΗ ΜΠΟΡΕΙ ΝΑ ΣΩΣΕΙ ΖΩΕΣ.

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Ενα chain letter πολύ τρομακτικό . Ομως δυστυχώς παίζουν με το θυμικό μας και είναι εξοργιστικοί όταν κυκλοφορούν ανακρίβειες που αφορούν θέματα υγείας. Μετά από έρευνα στο διαδίκτυο λοιπόν βρήκαμε τα εξής: Το συγκεκριμένο email, έχει πάρα πολλά χρόνια που κυκλοφορεί ως φήμη, η οποία όμως είναι ανυπόστατη. Και βρήκε κάποιος αχρείος έλληνας την ευκαιρία να τρομάξει πολλές γυναίκες.

 

A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF BREAST CANCER SITES:
SEARCHING THE WEB FOR ANSWERS

Marilyn J. Matelski
Boston College

……………………….

Rumors and myths usually emerge in cyberspace in several ways, most often through e-mail chain letters, book reviews/endorsements, special interest groups and recycled, outdated scientific studies. The following representative examples from each category serve to illustrate the power of the «channel» within the overall message impact.

1. The E-mail Chain Letter: Antiperspirants

This rumor was circulated primarily through e-mail chain letters like the one below. It was sent, through a breast cancer support listserv, to a patient who was recovering from a modified radical mastectomy with reconstruction, and in the midst of chemotherapy treatment (Hiler, 1999).

Sent: Thursday, December 02, 1999 3:39 PM

FYI-Something to think about

Some time ago, I attended a Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar put on by Terry Birk with support from Dan Sullivan. During the Q&A period, I asked why the most common area for breast cancer was near the armpit. My question could not be answered at that time. This e-mail was just sent to me, and I find it interesting that my question has been answered. I challenge you all to rethink your everyday use of a product that could ultimately lead to a terminal illness. As of today, I will change my use. A friend forwarded this to me. I showed it to a friend going through chemotherapy and she said she learned this fact in a support group recently. I wish I had known it 14 years ago.

Fwd: Message

I just got information from a health seminar that I would like to share. The leading cause of breast cancer is the use of antiperspirant. What? A concentration of toxins, leading to cell mutations: a.k.a., CANCER.

Yes. ANTIPERSPIRANT. Most of the products out there are an antiperspirant/deodorant combination so go home and check your labels. Deodorant is fine, antiperspirant is not. Here’s why: The human body has a few areas that it uses to purge toxins; behind the knees, behind the ears, groin area, and armpits. The toxins are purged in the form of perspiration.

Antiperspirant, as the name clearly indicates, prevents you from perspiring, thereby inhibiting the body from purging toxins from below the armpits. These toxins do not just magically disappear. Instead, the body deposits them I the lymph nodes below the arms since it cannot sweat them out. Nearly all breast cancer tumors occur in the upper outside quadrant of the breast area. This is precisely where the lymph nodes are located.

Additionally, men are less likely (but not completely exempt) to develop breast cancer prompted by antiperspirant usage because most of the antiperspirant product is caught in their hair and is not directly applied to the skin. Women who apply antiperspirant right after shaving increase the risk further because shaving causes almost imperceptible nicks in the skin which give the chemicals entrance into the body from the armpit area.

PLEASE pass this along to anyone you care about. Breast Cancer is becoming frighteningly common. This awareness may save lives. if you are skeptical about these findings, I urge you to do some research for yourself. You will arrive at the same conclusions, I assure you.

Thank you.

Katrina Scott
Asst Director of Sports Marketing
Univ Maryland
P.O. Box 295
Cole Field House/Campus Drive
College Park, MD 20741-0295

As «information broker,» it wasn’t too difficult to find credible web site information to dispute the claims in this e-mail. Newspaper articles (via Lexis-Nexis), in addition to reliable breast cancer web sites such as CancerNet, American Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer Resource Center, the National Alliance of Breast Cancer, and Y-Me were extremely persuasive (as well as informative) in their on-line warnings to disregard these e-mails. One of the most compelling statements came from the combined efforts of the Canadian Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society, as quoted by reporter Pamela Fayerman in the Montreal Gazette:

Comparing what the E-mail says against «what science tells us,» the Canadian statement said no epidemiology study has ever found anti-perspirants to be a risk factor for developing breast cancer. It also doesn’t make sense from a physiological point of view, the society said. «The primary purpose of perspiration is as a cooling mechanism.»

«While lymph nodes do clear some toxins from the body, your liver and kidneys play a far more important role in eliminating substances. . . and far more toxins are purged through urination than through perspiration.»

The E-mail maintains men are less likely to develop breast cancer because most of their anti-perspirant sticks to their underarm hair and thus never gets absorbed under the skin.

But the cancer society says some men do get breast cancer, although only one per cent of all cases involve men. Women make up the majority of cases because of hormonal factors.

A University of Minnesota cancer specialist remarked that if the hair in men’s armpits somehow protected them from the danger in anti-perspirants, «then the incidence of breast cancer in European women (who don’t shave their armpits as much) would be a lot lower and it’s not. …Dr. Pamela Goodwin, a Toronto breast cancer researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital, has noted that breast cancer was the most common form of cancer in women nearly 100 years ago, long before women began using anti-perspirants (2000, p. D9).

Unfortunately, however people who place more credibility on e-mail chain letters than authorized web sites are often unimpressed with newspaper articles, institutional press releases or authorized web sites. Also, when the sender’s e-mail address has some type of university affiliation (as this one did), the «truth» quotient rises. Thus, it was fortunate in this case, that one of the e-mail recipients forwarded the «warning» to a medical professional who responded quickly and decisively (Faigel):

Sent: Thursday, December 06, 1999 10:53 AM

Re: breast cancer & antiperspirants

There is some frighteningly wrong information in the information in this posting. It is full of pernicious falsehoods.

The leading cause of breast cancer is not antiperspirants and there is no scientific evidence that contradicts this statement.

The body does not purge itself of toxins through sweat glands. I’d like to see the science behind any assertion to the contrary.

Sweat is basically water and some salts. Bacteria on the skin may make it odorous when it builds up, but sweat is just a salty fluid no matter where it is excreted. And sweat tends to accumulate where there are folds in the skin or where it is trapped between two layers of skin, as at the armpit and groin, and between the toes.

There are sweat glands all over the skin-from the crown of the head to the tip of the longest toe.

Despite the name, antiperspirants don’t stop sweating-they just reduce it.

The body gets rid of toxins via the kidneys and liver.

«Toxins,» whatever those may be, are not deposited in lymph nodes.

Lymph nodes are not the source site of breast cancer. The most common cause of cancer that has been identified scientifically is a mutation in a gene in the breast cells.

Any man can tell you that antiperspirants are indeed deposited on the skin of the armpit. Otherwise, they wouldn’t work.

Breast cancer is more common today in part because it is a disease of older women, and more women have lived long enough to get into the age range that has a higher incidence.

Finally, what are the scientific credentials of the leaders of that seminar-Terry Birk and Dan Sullivan? Is the seminar a money-making device?

Doubters should check Medline on the Net at Pubmed at the National Library of Medicine, or one of the reliable commercial sources of health care information on the Net, such as Dr. Koop.com, Healthgate.com, or Themedicaledge.com.

Harris. C. Faigel, M.D., FAAP, FACH
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Tufts University School of Medicine

Sadly, however, like many «urban legends» circulated through «underground» channels, this rumor continues to prevail, despite countless efforts to impugn it.

2. Book Review/Endorsements: Underwire Bras

This rumor was circulated through several sources, most notoriously in the book, Dressed to Kill (1995). The authors argue that bras-especially those with underwiring–constrict the lymph nodes, thereby creating a toxic «well» in the breast cavity. «Proof» of this phenomenon is the comparably high rate of cancer in North American women, who wear bras often and for many hours each day. Conversely, the book contends, women in underdeveloped countries (who, apparently either choose not to wear bras or wear them for shorter periods each day) have fewer incidences of breast cancer. No mention is made in this book of any other potential factors, such as genetic profiles, age, diet, not having children, etc. (Imaginis) Nor do the authors discuss health care systems, diagnostic procedures, or the fact that poorer people rarely go to the doctor for a yearly physical and mammogram.

Even more disturbing is that the book is still recommended by some web sites, including one from Women’s Health, updated as recently as September 2000 (About.com). In it, writer Tracee Cornworth quotes the results of a two-year study of interviews with over 4,700 women by the authors of Dressed to Kill. She concludes:

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women; 42,200 women are expected to die of breast cancer in 2000, while approximately 182,800 women will be diagnosed with this dreaded disease. If a simple act, like taking off your bra could reduce your breast cancer risk so dramatically, what would you do? For me, after reading this thought-provoking book, the answer is simple; I will not be wearing a bra, unless it is for a very important occasion and it will be rare, at that. In fact, only a few pages into this astounding book and my bra was off! Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, is an auspicious book which may finally provide the light at the end of the tunnel, in the search for a cause of breast cancer. There is no health risk involved in taking your bra off, but could the continued wearing of a bra be the trigger for possible future breast cancer? You decide.

This web page, part of a larger site devoted to women’s health site, suggests an empowerment to women that is virtually nonexistent. Further, it ties into other commercial enterprises, including job lines, bookstores, homeopathic centers, hydraulic circuit training for weight loss, fertility clinics and «aids,» many of which may be disreputable and potentially dangerous The legal conditions for this site are hyper-linked, but not prominently displayed-in fact, the «rider» is inserted (in a smaller font) below the e-mail subscription request and above the other links to About.com. In short, unless someone is specifically looking for it, chances are unlikely that the disclaimer will be read. However, the site is attractive, easy to access, and user-friendly-three elements to suggest its popularity, if not precision.

3. Special Interest Groups: Having an Abortion

It should not be surprising that with the plethora of breast cancer information available-reliable or not-special interest groups often select what data they need to persuade people to accept the arguments for their premise. The supposed link of abortions to breast cancer has attracted both pro-life and pro-choice groups, each of whom quote researchers and organizations to back their respective positions. According to Abortionfacts.com, a common pro-life position is represented in this way:

Consider a young woman who is pregnant. If she continues the pregnancy and gives birth, then her chances of having breast cancer will be lower than if she elects to have an abortion. By having an abortion, she loses the considerable protection that a completed pregnancy offers. Thus, it can be argued that having an abortion increases her chances of contracting breast cancer.

On the other hand, pro-choice advocates contend:

Consider the same young woman who is pregnant. If she has an early abortion, then she will not complete her pregnancy, and so will not receive the protection against breast cancer that having a baby provides. Her chance of contracting breast cancer is probably unchanged from what it would have been if she had not become pregnant. Since her chance of getting cancer is unchanged, then having an abortion does not increase her chances of contracting breast cancer; it merely restores it to the original probability (Abortionfacts.com).

According to a recent (1999) posting by CancerNet, the link between abortion and breast cancer is inconsistent at best:

The relationship between abortion and breast cancer has been the subject of extensive research. However, evidence of a direct relationship between breast cancer and either induced or spontaneous abortion is inconsistent. Some studies have indicated small elevations in risk, while others have not shown any risk associated with either induced or spontaneous abortions.

A large-scale epidemiologic study of this question, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1997, determined that the risk of developing breast cancer for women with a history of induced abortion was not different from the risk for women without such a history. The authors, Melbye and others, used data from Danish health registries. Registry data on abortions was collected before the diagnosis of breast cancer was made. Using information on abortions that was collected before breast cancer developed avoids recall or reporting bias, which may occur in retrospective studies when information about abortions is collected after the diagnosis of breast cancer. The authors concluded that «induced abortions have no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer.»

Because of relatively unconvincing evidence on either side, special interest groups-religious, political or social-will most likely continue this debate in cyberspace.

4. Recycled, Outdated Scientific Studies: Sleeping Under an Electric Blanket

This «warning» was based on earlier studies which suggested that electromagnetic fields created when an electric blanket is «on,» decrease the melatonin level in our bodies-a hormone said to block breast cancer cell growth. A 1991 St. Petersburg Times article quoted a report from the Los Angeles Daily News:

Some studies have indicated an association between EM fields and leukemia, brain cancer and lymphoma. Research conducted recently by epidemiologists at the State University of New York at Buffalo indicated a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer in women who used electric blankets (Kowalik, 1991 ).

By 1993, researchers at the same university had already begun to discount earlier findings. In fact, they concluded that post-menopausal women did not run any increased breast cancer risk by using electric blankets, although other problems may occur:

In the past few months, at the University at Buffalo and elsewhere, researchers have taken a closer look at the potential dangers of EMFs from electric blankets as well as other seemingly innocuous household appliances (including water bed heaters, electric shavers and hair dryers).

And . . . the scientists still can’t make up their minds for sure. Welcome to what Science magazine last month called «the tortured world of EMF research.»

Despite the confusion, some guidelines for safer living are becoming a little clearer. UB researchers John Vena and Larry Dlugosz and colleagues in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (Dlugosz has since moved to Yale University) showed that pregnant women who use electric blankets are not more likely to give birth to children with certain common birth defects.

In another recently published study, Vena and colleagues also showed that post-menopausal women who use electric blankets do not run an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Now researchers in the department will look at the risks for women before menopause.

The UB studies were significant because they disproved hunches that scientists previously had about the dangers of electric blankets. The researchers chose electric blankets because, unlike most appliances, they are applied directly to the body for periods of time.

The UB work even seems to suggest that the dangers of EMFs in the home have been greatly exaggerated.

…Some other new studies are more alarming. Electric blankets may not lead to birth defects, but children who use electric blankets or other appliances (this study pointed to hair dryers, black-and-white TVs and curling irons) are at greater risk for developing childhood leukemia, according to research done at the University of Southern California.

…And finally, researchers at the Battelle Memorial Institute in Seattle just announced preliminary findings that suggest men who use electric razors are more than twice as likely to develop leukemia as men who don’t. The study also found a somewhat weaker link between leukemia and the use of hair driers and hand-held massagers. Razors, like electric blankets, are applied directly to the body.

The reason this is all so complicated is that there are so many variables. Scientists aren’t even sure whether the critical issue is intensity of the EMFs or the configuration of the wiring that produces them. And no one has a good theory on the biology of how EMFs could cause the problems they are accused of.

…For example, scientists have observed that EMFs seem to repress a hormone in the pineal gland that may be related to cell growth and cancer — but they don’t know why the hormone responds to the EMFs.

Whom to believe (Montgomery, 1993)?

In 1994, scientists still questioned a link between electromagnetic fields and cancer, but had dropped electric blankets from the «danger» list:

Women in non-traditional electrical jobs may share traits other than electrical exposure that put them at higher breast cancer risk, says Dimitrios Trichopoulos of the Harvard School of Public Health. Or, he says, they may share traits that make them less likely to die of other causes. In any case, he says, several other studies – including one of electric blanket users – have found no link between electricity and breast cancer (Painter, 1994).

Still, the rumor persisted.

In an October 1998 issue of American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers from Columbia School of Public Health in New York once again declared that they’d found no appreciable difference in electric blanket/mattress usage among women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer versus those who without cancer. They added that the study of electromagnetic fields and their possible role in the development of breast cancer may be worth pursuing, but electric blankets were definitely ruled out as possible culprits of the disease (WebMD, 1998 ).

The basic problem here is time-based. Many sites do not give dates for their information; and because users associate the Internet with «immediacy,» they often assume the articles found here are current. And because there is no regulatory body to offer either incentive or penalty to update information (and eliminate misinformation), the undated, un-revised pages remain.

Pathos – The Audience

The numbers and «faces» of online audiences has changed greatly in the last decade. In fact, an October 2000 U.S. Commerce report estimated that by the middle of 2001, more than half of all Americans will be using the Internet. The report continues:

The Internet is becoming an increasingly vital tool in our information society. More Americans are going online to conduct such day-to-day activities as education, business transactions, personal correspondence, research and information-gathering, and job searches. Each year, being digitally connected becomes ever more critical to economic and educational advancement and community participation.

According to the 2000 Pew Internet Project Report, more women, minorities, lower-income families and elders used online services than ever before (Internet and American Life, 2000). Further,

The increase in online access by all kinds of Americans highlight the fact that the Internet population looks more and more like the overall population of the United States. However, there are still some notable demographic differences when it comes to access. The most dramatic disparities are defined by income and age. The income gap looks this way: 82% of those living in households with more than $75,000 in income now have Internet access, compared to 38% of those in households earning less than $30,000. The good news is that those at the low end of the economic scale are coming online relatively rapidly. Only 28% of those in lower-income households were online in May-June.

The gray gap looks this way: 75% of those between ages 18 and 29 have Internet access, compared to 15% of those 65 and over. The increase among senior citizens was also healthy – it is up from 12% in May-June – but there continues to be substantial reluctance among many seniors to getting Internet access. At the same time, there was enormous growth in Internet access by those between ages 50 and 64.

As American Demographics reporter Michael J. Weiss advises, «Say farewell to the geeky white guys. The new generation of internet users looks a lot like the folks who cruise Wal-Mart-and then some» (March 1, 2001).

As for audience uses and gratifications, the Pew Report states that health communication is:

…still more popular among online women than men and it is one of the most serious activities that Internet newcomers pursue. In all, about 60 million Americans have used the Internet to seek health and medical information. The largest increases between mid-year and the end-of-the-year came in several groups: 58% of African-Americans with Internet access had sought health information, according to the November-December survey, which is a jump of 6 points from mid-year. The seeking of health information also became more popular among those in the 50-64 age bracket. Fully 63% of those that age with Internet accessed used the Web for health information – an increase of 9 points from mid-year.

This information becomes troubling when a recent RAND corporation study (entitled, «Proceed with Caution»), sponsored by the California Health Care Foundation, concluded that «most of the time, health information on the Internet is hard to find, hard to read and often incorrect or incomplete,» especially Spanish populations (Hilts, 2001.) When interviewed by Arizona Republic reporter Tony Pugh, Dr. Leo Morales, the RAND Report’s co-author, disclosed, «What we found on the whole is that there are gaps in the information provided. With rare exceptions, they’re all doing an equally poor job.» Morales also acknowledged that Spanish language sites supplied only about half the necessary information for persons to make informed choices (as compared to English-language sites, which provided about 70 percent). He attributed the disproportion to poor translation (Pugh, 2001). To summarize, Dr. Gretchen Berland, the study’s principal investigator said, «E-health will not go away, and it has the potential to be a revolutionary technology. But some changes need to be made to make the information more reliable» (Pugh, 2001).

Conclusion

As more and more people enter into the cyberspace world of information-gathering (especially in such potentially dangerous topics as breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and outcomes), the challenge continues to be the management of 1) usable information, 2) credible information, 3) understandable information, and 4) information that can address patients specific needs as they enter new stages of breast cancer awareness. As «Next Frontiers,» a 2001 Newsweek special report on Health and Medicine states, «The wealth of information on the Web has given patients unprecedented power over their health-care choices-a development that poses its own risks» (p. 41). The challenge of information validity and reliability remains, although not without some support. Several online advocacy groups have emerged with «codes» of conduct, notably The Health On the Net Foundation (HON) and OncoLink.

Begun in 1995, HON is a not-for-profit international Swiss organization, whose primary goal is to identify useful and reliable online medical and health information to non-professionals as well as medical staff. It has also been a pioneer in setting ethical standards for web designers, allowing the «HON» logo to be displayed on sites where individuals, businesses or organizations agree to «certain standards of conduct pertaining to credentials, references, confidentiality, financing and advertising practices» (Coburn, 2000). In addition to the HON code principles, its «Patient’s Guide» also suggests a checklist to assess the validity of sites, including these warnings:

1) Don’t be too impressed by sites that display awards as proof of credibility-they may have paid for the «honors» or have changed their site information/sponsors since the award was given;

2) Don’t be seduced into feeling that «paid» sites are more credible than free ones; and

3) Rely on your own instincts. (Health On the Net).

OncoLink, a breast cancer website affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, is also recognized as a consistently reliable source for information and education. Its hyperlink to Frequently Asked Questions also provides a list of criteria or «key» features to observe when critiquing a site. These include:

1) Accuracy of Information

2) Availability of Editorial Staff

3) Qualifications of Editorial Staff

4) Freshness of Content

5) Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest

6) Price of Information

7) Confidentiality

8) Reputation

9) Look and Feel

10) Navigation and Searching

As for e-mail and usenet message boards, online experts advise doing a web search on any names listed as experts in the field, knowing the source who is sending the message, and mistrusting messages filled with hyped, exclamation-filled warnings.

Recent web textbooks, like Alexander and Tate’s Web Wisdom: How to Evaluate and Create Information Quality on the Web and Kaye and Medoff’s The World Wide Web: A Mass Communication Perspective also give criteria for evaluating the quality of Internet information. Still, without federal regulation, and, perhaps more importantly, international agreement on web site standards, the motto is still caveat emptor, which is regrettable, since many people seeking medical information are vulnerable, possibly desperate, and most likely unable to discern between the values of all the claims presented to them.

Reference List

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